One Hundred Black Men
Written by Lindsay Stawick with some content from an earlier edition by
Since its inception in 1963, One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc. (One Hundred Black Men) is an organization aimed at improving the conditions of minority and underrepresented youth in communities nationwide. One significant purpose of One Hundred Black Men is to challenge stereotypes and implicit biases held by many Americans against the African-American community. Armed with the power of inspirational words and community service, their motto is "What They See Is What They'll Be". This distinguished group of talented gentlemen seeks to dispel the negative images of the black man in society and serve as a beacon of leadership in the community, motivating and empowering others with a strong commitment to young Americans.
Throughout the course of American history, the black man has been subjected to the horrors of unjust treatment at the hands of systemic racism. Even when slaves in America were emancipated and set free, the black community continued to face discrimination and violence. Despised and segregated, the African-American community had to form alliances and horizontal ties in order to survive. Black philanthropy was birthed out of the need to support and empower the black community in the face of divisiveness.
Ostracized in every segment of white society and all its institutions, the black community became a refuge in which one could be treated with dignity and respect. Mutual Aid Societies, the Black Masons, fraternal organizations, the Church, the Urban League, women's groups and other non-profit organizations filled the gap by providing social services and benevolence to individuals as a means of helping them to rise above adverse situations within society, inherently establishing a black middle class (www.history.com/topics/black-history). These organizations forged on to overcome obstacles of unfairness throughout the nineteenth century and continue to do so today.
From these historical roots, One Hundred Black Men was established. The inception of this powerful organization happened at an important time in African-American history - the Civil Rights Movement. Although the heart of the movement took place in the South, conditions throughout the rest of the country were not ideal either. Segregated communities were the norm. Through the media, the nation's eyes were focused on the black nonviolent protesters and the brutal assaults inflicted upon them by the angry mobs and police force. Many Americans expected the Civil Rights Movement to serve as a vehicle to improve the status and well-being of black Americans. With activities intensifying in the South, the spirit of the movement began to travel across the nation, provoking others to rise up, protest injustices, and demand equal rights (www.history.com/topics/black-history).
The concept for One Hundred Black Men originated in the state of New York in 1963. Born out of the necessity to band together in order to gain a greater voice, a group of black men organized after an incident in which the highest-ranking black police officer in his precinct was reprimanded unjustly. He had come to the aid of a respected African-American citizen in the community who was arrested for questioning the actions of the predominantly white police department. Seeking advice from his peers, a decision was made: David Dinkins, Andrew Hatcher, and Livingston Wingate would join together and organize as a means of confronting problems, not only at the police station, but at other places in the community as well (Martin, 2004).
From these beginnings arose a program that was designed to improve the lives of minorities. By pooling resources, they embarked on the journey to strengthen communities in which they lived by mentoring youth and implementing programs to support and empower the future of people of color. Presently, the membership contains over 10,000 individuals from 90 national and four international chapters, with continued membership growth (One Hundred Black Men, Inc.). In 2016, One Hundred Black Men celebrated 30 years of creating “positive influence and powerful impact” in communities across the country (One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.).
According to Inside Philanthropy, the concepts of philanthropy and giving back to one’s community have long been prevalent among African-Americans (2016). Systemic racism created a strong bond of kinship among the black race. Today, the black community gives away 25 percent more of their income per year than white Americans (Inside Philanthropy, 2016). The culture of giving in the black community stems from traditions rooted in the black church and the idea that it is important to “never forget where one came from.”
The concepts of social capital and giving back to the community lie at the core of One Hundred Black Men. The members of this organization have rallied together, built relationships and networks, and continue to work tirelessly to improve the livelihood and functionality of their communities. Membership consists of black men twenty-one years of age and older, strong in character, and committed to establishing a connection with young males. The organization promotes the "intellectual development of youth and the economic empowerment of the African-American community based upon the following precepts: respect for family, spirituality, justice and integrity."
Members are the role models within the community to which younger "black brothers" are encouraged to pattern themselves. Their motto, "what they see is what they'll be,” reflects the need to be visibly active in the community, setting up a continuance of interaction that impacts the lives of young males. The strength of the organization lies within its members, involving leaders from business, medical, science and technology fields as well as the religious community. In addition, retirees lend their expertise and years of experience, imparting words of wisdom and guidance.
These men are deeply concerned about the plight of the young black male and understand factors that contribute to his possible demise. The Center for Disease Control states that the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 34 is homicide (2014). According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the black community is disproportionately represented in American prisons (March 2017). At the end of 2014, black males accounted for 37% of the male prison population and imprisonment rates for black males were 3.8 to 10.5 times greater that white males (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014). One Hundred Black Men not only wants to improve life, but prolong the lives of our youth by presenting opportunities that will steer them away from crime and death.
In addition to the statistics above, in recent years attention has been given to the alarming rate of unarmed, usually young, black men that are being murdered by police officers in this country. The news of these events has sparked conversation around racial injustices in our legal system, racialized police violence, and police conduct (Garcia and Sharif, 2015). According to the One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc. 2016 Annual Report, members publicly condemned the tragic deaths of unarmed black men killed by police officers in communities across the country. Not only are members speaking out publicly, but chapters across the country are implementing strategies, policies, and public forums to address this issue. One Hundred Black, Inc. is an integral part in addressing racial injustices in our country.
Ties to the Philanthropic Sector
The past three decades have seen the lives of more than 60,000 young people positively influenced by One Hundred Black Men in chapters around the nation. Considering the changing face of America, studies show that within the near future over 50 percent of those individuals entering the U.S. work force will be people of color. Over half of these jobs will require extensive training and education to acquire the skills needed to do the job. One of the goals of this organization is to prepare today's minority youth with the ability to work in the global workplace, fortifying the black community and, consequently, enhancing society as a whole.
One Hundred Black Men has implemented programs that aspire to give youth the competitive edge by developing their academic proficiency, mental health well-being, and economic capabilities. Mentors take on the responsibility of alleviating the numerous stumbling blocks that obstruct the success of African-American youth.
Via the use of open forum and panel presentations, these advocates bridge the gap "between the area's decision-makers and the African-American and minority communities." Each chapter has its own corporate sponsors and tailors its program to the community in which it is located, necessitating social change and enhancing the quality of life for all involved in their programs (One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.).
"Four for the Future" is a signature program of One Hundred Black Men and is a strategic plan that targets four areas regarded as essential to the success of youth and community at large: anti-violence, economic development programs, education, and youth mentoring (One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.).
The Wimberly Initiative on Disproportionality is designed to pinpoint the cause and diminish the disproportionate amount of referrals for children of color to special education. Initiating "school-based projects to support feasible exits from special education and subsequent success in the academic mainstream," is the task undertaken by One Hundred Black Men.
To accomplish the task of improving the practices and policy in special education, One Hundred Black Men have aligned themselves with the Policymakers Partnership of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). With funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the Wimberly Initiative "is one of four linked national projects to involve key constituencies in support of the 1997 IDEA amendments" (One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.).
The Policymakers Partnership consist of the following organizations that seek to "uplift, help develop, and foster the dreams and aspirations of African-American youth"::
- American Institutes for Research
- American Federation of Teachers
- American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
- Council of Chief State School Officers
- National Alliance of Black School Educators
- The National Association State Directors of Special Education National Association of State Boards of Education
- National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- National Governors' Association
- Parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights (PACER)
- Southeast Regional Resources Center
Key Related Ideas
A crucial component within One Hundred Black Men is the desire to establish the "ties that bind" and the concept of male validation. Men who choose to take part in the organization assume the role that designates them as models and mentors to young people in their community. In our society, images of material wealth earned by sports figures, actors, and music artists who make millions of dollars often inspire young males to seek fast cash in whatever way necessary.
One Hundred Black Men's motto, "What They See Is What They'll Be," acknowledges that there is a need to redefine the values of the younger generation by reaching out and investing the needed time. Young males must be exposed to this segment of society that, in most circumstances, they would not normally interact. The intergenerational contact allows the transference of values between boy and man, father to son, and brother to brother that is often missing in the African-American community. This contact and transference of values promotes the ideals of altruism or giving philanthropically through selflessness and compassion for others.
Helping young men gain the knowledge that one's self-value is not defined by his possessions, but rather the content of his character, with ethical guidelines, proves invaluable to the well-being of that individual.
Important People Related to the Topic
The following is a small sampling of One Hundred Black Men's list of distinguished gentlemen. Although all of their names may not be widely recognized, their valiant efforts are crucial (One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.).
- Dennis Archer - Former Mayor, City of Detroit
- Ron Brown - Former U.S. Commerce Secretary
- Bill Campbell - Mayor, City of Atlanta
- Kenneth Chennault - President, American Express
- Johnny Cochran - Attorney
- David Dinkins - Former Mayor of New York, Founder One Hundred Black Men
- Danny Glover - Actor
- Earl Graves - Publisher and CEO of Black Enterprise Magazine
- Andrew Hatcher - Associate Press Secretary to John F. Kennedy, Founder, One Hundred Black Men
- John Lewis - Current U.S. Congressman
- Rod Paige - U.S. Secretary of Education
- Richard Parsons - President, Time Warner
- Honorable P.J. Patterson - Prime Minister of Jamaica
- Colin Powell - Retired Joints Chief of Staff
- Charlie Rangel - New York Congressman
- The Livingston Wingate - New York State Supreme Court Justice Founder, One Hundred Black Men
- The Dr. Benjamin E. Mays - Educator
- Andrew Young - Former U.S. Ambassador
Related Nonprofit Organizations
- African American Male Mentoring Initiative mentors over 100 young African-American males at eight schools within Pittsburgh Public Schools. One goal of this initiative is to “empower at-risk youth in our community to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their personal potential.”
- Black Elks is one of many African-American fraternal organizations with similar missions to that of One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc. Formed in 1899, the Black Elks is a historically black non- profit charitable fraternal organization still in operation. Formally named the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, they were founded in Cincinnati, Ohio because African-Americans during the 19th and the first half of the 20th century were denied membership into white fraternal organizations. The Black Elks served their communities and provided financial, spiritual, and emotional support.
- Black Professional Men, Inc., based in Baltimore, Maryland, seeks to "ensure the future of the African-American male." Programs include health, education, economic development, and community development.
- Circle Brotherhood Association is committed to improving the lives of other black men and youth by means of mentoring, economic development, promoting educational excellence, and spiritual guidance.
- OK, based throughout California, works to empower black men and boys to transform their communities. OK works with African-American males who are between the ages of 12 and 18 with an overarching goal of improving the relationships between youth and law enforcement.
- National Organization of Concerned Black Men, Inc., established in 1975, has chapters located in 22 states and abroad. Their enrichment programs focus on education, health, and self-improvement through leadership development and community grass-root efforts.
- Progressive Black Men, Inc. is a brotherhood of college students, alumni, faculty, and veterans who have pledged their time, talent, and treasure for the sole purpose of "promoting positive images for black men in the community and working to reconstruct and redefine the image of the black male through volunteer work, humanitarian aid, and community service." Founded on the campus of Florida State University in 1989, these role models excel in academic excellence, use their "collective knowledge, collective effort, and collective strength" to eradicate the stereotypes of African-American males often portrayed as criminals, thugs, and womanizers, as well as ignorant and uncivilized in the media and entertainment.
Reflection Question - Thinking about the current racial injustices in our country, how important is One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc. in creating a culture of inclusion, empathy, and compassion?
- Bureau of Justice Statistics. Prisoners in 2014. Accessed 17 November 2017https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p14.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control. Health equity. Accessed 17 November 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/lcod/men/2014/black/index.htm
- Garcia, Jee-Lyn Jennifer and Sharif, Zulfacar Mienah. 2015 January. Black Lives Matter: A Commentary on Racism and Public Health. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302706
- Hall-Russell, Cheryl. Kasberg Robert H. African American Traditions of Giving and Serving: A Midwest Perspective. Indiana: Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, 1997. 24-30. ISBN: 1-884354-14-9.
- History.com. Black History Milestones. Accessed 17 November 2017. http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-milestones.
- Inside Philanthropy. A Rising Force: On the State of Black Philanthropy. Accessed 17 November 2017. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2016/9/14/a-rising-force-on-the-state-of-black-philanthropy.html
- One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc. Accessed 17 November 2017. http://www.100blackmen.org/.
- One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.: 2016 Annual Report Accessed 24 October 2017. http://100blackmen.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2016-Annual-Report.pdf
- One Hundred Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. Accessed 17 November 2017. http://www.100blackmen-atlanta.org.
- One Hundred Black Men of Chicago, Inc. Accessed 17 November 12. http://www.100bmc.org.
- One Hundred Black Men of Houston, Inc. Accessed 17 November 2017. http://www.100blackmenhou.org
This paper was developed by students taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University in 2017. It is offered by Learning To Give and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.